Are you ready to take your Milky Way photos to the next level? Check out a few of my favorite methods for making the Milky Way pop and glow! Here’s a simple glow effect you can try in Photoshop:
1) Add a levels adjustment layer to the top of your layer stack.
2) Set the blend mode of that adjustment layer to Overlay.
3) Adjust the levels sliders to taste, shoot for a look where most of the sky is dark but the Milky Way is very bright. It should look harsh and weird at this point, but that’s ok!
4) Merge all the visible layers to a new layer, keeping the rest of your layers in tact.
5) Disable or remove the levels adjustment layer created in step 2.
6) Apply a Gaussian Blur to the new merge visible layer, try a radius of somewhere between 20 – 40 pixels or higher, it should look soft and blurry but not so blurry that that you can’t even recognize the Milky Way anymore.
7) Change the blend mode of the blurred layer to Soft Light and adjust the opacity of that layer to taste.
8) Your image should now have a lot more contrast and a soft glow! Mask out the foreground and stars as needed if they are being effected too much.
Are you excited to learn more? Check out the training part of my website for video tutorials, including my new video “Making the Milky Way Pop” that covers the above technique and a many others with 3 example photos. Happy editing!